Fish Oil: A Comprehensive Lipids-Based Analysis


From the Journal of Lipids

Why Fish Oil Fails: A Comprehensive 21st Century Lipids-Based Physiologic Analysis

Using the most direct and effective physiologic measure, fish oil in the doses suggested is unequivocally shown to be an anti-antiaging substance, increasing vascular “biologic aging” by over a decade—causing “hardening of the arteries”—compared to PEO consumption. Compared to taking nothing, fish oil decreased subjects’ arterial compliance (a bad outcome), by nearly four years [60].

Prophylactic marine oil consumption given its supraphysiologic EPA/DHA amounts—both theoretically and in clinical use—leads to increased inflammation, increased CVD, and increased cancer risk.

The medical community suffered three significant fish oil failures/setbacks in 2013. Claims that fish oil’s EPA/DHA would stop the progression of heart disease were crushed when The Risk and Prevention Study Collaborative Group (Italy) released a conclusive negative finding regarding fish oil for those patients with high risk factors but no previous myocardial infarction. Fish oil failed in all measures of CVD prevention—both primary and secondary. Another major 2013 setback occurred when fish oil’s DHA was shown to significantly increase prostate cancer in men, in particular, high-grade prostate cancer, in the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) analysis by Brasky et al. Another monumental failure occurred in 2013 whereby fish oil’s EPA/DHA failed to improve macular degeneration. In 2010, fish oil’s EPA/DHA failed to help Alzheimer’s victims, even those with low DHA levels. These are by no means isolated failures. The promise of fish oil and its so-called active ingredients EPA / DHA fails time and time again in clinical trials. This lipids-based physiologic review will explain precisely why there should have never been expectation for success. This review will focus on underpublicized lipid science with a focus on physiology.

From the Soylent 1.0 Macronutrient Overview

Fish Oil (6.4g) - Fish oil is a popular source of the Omega-3 fatty acids recommended in the diet by the American Heart Association. Though technically only ALA is essential, the conversion factor to DHA and EPA which occurs in the body is poor and direct supplementation is advised.

DHA is found in synaptic membranes of the brain and both EPA and DHA have been found to improve overall mental health and stability.

Soylent contains roughly 1g of each omega-3 fatty acid per day, which is comfortably in excess of the amount recommended by the AHA. The USDA has also made mention of officially recommending EPA and DHA for inclusion in the diet, though the amount is undecided.

From the Journal of Lipids

  1. Amounts of EPA/DHA in Fish Oil Supplements: Pharmacological Plasma Overdoses
    Given the above analyses, how much EPA/DHA does the typical marine oil/fish oil supplement provide? An average 1,000 mg health-food-grade fish oil capsule contains approximately 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA. Pharmaceutical-grade versions contain higher doses. Furthermore EPA ⇔ DHA. This is not the case with PEOs. They are unidirectional. The American Heart Association states that those with documented CHD are advised to consume about 1 gm (1,000 mg) of EPA + DHA per day. Is this advice rational? No.

As an example, using the USDA food composition research formulas covered earlier, if patients consumed a supplement of 600 mg of Parent ALA, they would naturally convert it to EPA by no more than the (generous) factor of 0.25% = 1.5 mg EPA and 1.5 mg × 0.63 × 0.37 = 0.35 mg to DHA in patient plasma. Therefore, just one capsule provides the amounts shown in the analysis below, and many people are overdosing even more by taking 2 to 4 fish oil capsules each day, likely in part because the cardiology and heart recommendations are often “EPA + DHA ranging from 0.5 to 1.8 grams per day.” What overdose does this translate to?

11.1. Potential EPA/DHA Overdoses Are Frequent

Potential Overdose equates to the following plasma overdoses: EPA = 180 mg/1.5 mg = 120 times overdose and DHA = 120 mg/0.35 mg = 340 times overdose. These facts should cause great pause and concern. (Technically, a bit more is required for additional metabolic pathways aside from direct tissue incorporation like prostaglandin production, but it is not a significant amount by weight on a daily basis.) The medical community and most physicians and other health professionals may unknowingly be overdosing patients prophylactically with supraphysiologic supplemental amounts of omega-3 derivatives.


If it makes you feel better, they have already stated they want to move away from fish oil, for Vegan compliance if nothing else.


Could we get someone who’s up to date with research in this area to comment on this review? I’ve put in an hour or two to read through this and check a few of their references to make sure they weren’t over-exaggerating or misrepresenting them (and it seemed okay to me). But while I’ve got a decent general scientific background, I am not at all knowledgeable enough in this area to properly critique it.

If what they’re saying is true and recent studies have found EPA and DHA doing much more harm than good, this has some serious consequences for our recipes (both official and DIY). We don’t need fish oil or algal DHA; we can get by just fine with the small amount converted from ALA sources like soybean/flaxseed oil.

On the other hand, the writing style puts me off. There’s frequent, unnecessary mentions that fish oil is “harmful”. It feels like they’re saying “DHA (which is harmful, by the way) was claimed in the pseudo-scientific dark ages of the early '00s to improve cardiovascular health, but using super duper 100% foolproof 21st century science, some other people found that DHA causes cancer and will kill you, so we need to take that seriously. Some guy with authority was so convinced, he said that people should stop taking fish oil, so you should believe him.” I’m over-exaggerating, of course, but seeing that this is written as a persuasive article which does nothing to justify why studies which turned out to be in favor of fish oil are incorrect makes me concerned.

The Nootropics community at Reddit was quick to attack the author, Brian Peskin as “not an accredited researcher in the field” and “pushing his own agenda in an open access journal”. It doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but I’ve found that it’s possible to find papers and numbers (however inaccurate) to support just about any position you want to take. So, I’m hoping we have someone here who can reasonably address these claims and the conclusions the authors draw. Might be a long shot, but maybe @rob?


If I were to get the Vegan formula, my preference would be to add Udo Oil 3-6-9 blend or Barleans organic equivalent. Both are organic, vegetarian sources, and blended for Omega’s 3, 6 and 9 in proper proportions. These oils are expensive, but if you are going for best health, good oil is important. I’ve read the book Fat’s that Heal, and Fat’s that Kill which was a scientific look at why some fats are good, and some are bad, and others that were good can be bad due to the way they are processed.


So, can we overdose Omega-3 by taking it in form of ALA? If so, how much is “too much”?


If this is true, that just one fish oil capsule is a 340x overdose of DHA, then wouldn’t eating even a small portion of fish be dangerous?


I’m just trying to figure the numbers out right now.

The Macronutrient Overview says there is 1g of each omega-3 fatty acid per day. I’m guessing that means 1g of EPA and 1g of DHA. Soylent lists 6.4g of fish oil per day. (Does this mean that there are 6.4g of ALA in one day of Soylent?)

I’m confused as to whether EPA/DHA are present in the fish oil or are derived from ALA. If EPA/DHA are already present (1g of each) then 1g of each might be much more than is necessary. However if they have to be converted from ALA, then the estimate of 1g each might be completely wrong.

Keep in mind that the article states:

This review speaks solely of marine oil/fish oil supplements and the concentrated pharmaceuticals of concentrated DHA or EPA like Lovaza and Vascepa.


According to this: Fish Oil has no ALA (18:3), about 7% of EPA (20:5) and 10% of DHA (22:6).